Get Independent: Movie Theaters + Transit
July 14, 2016
Located all over the city from Miami Beach, to Little Havana, to Wynwood, to even as far south as Cutler Bay, these babies are offering you things mainstream cinemas could never dream of. These theaters specialize in showing independent, art house, documentary and foreign films. On top of that, they host cool events like Q+A’s with actors and directors and free poolside screenings. Tickets are also way cheaper at indie theaters and they tend to be more alcohol friendly. Yeah, keep dreaming, Regal.
But most importantly, the movies played at these theaters are critically acclaimed films that will not be played at any commercial movie theater in the city. In the same way that mainstream theaters would never play indie films, indie theaters will never play Transformers or Fast and the Furious. Ever. (Maybe in 35mm? No, probably not.) I’ve also included public transit routes to each of the theaters. Give your car a break and get around the city in a more eco-conscious way. It’s also a great way to get some Pokemon Go in. Just saying.
Okay, let’s get started.
O Cinema (Miami Beach + Wynwood locations)
O Cinema, a series of Art House Cinemas in Miami, has locations in Miami Beach, Wynwood and Miami Shores. Currently, they are partnering with the Vagabond Hotel to present a Summer Cinema Series. The screenings are free, poolside at the Vagabond with $5-$7 drink specials starting at 6pm and lasting all night long. “Like” O Cinema’s Facebook page for event flyers. The O Cinema membership offers $3.50 off regular admission and membership benefits at select Art House Cinemas Nationwide among a bunch of other perks. At the lowest level, the membership pays itself if you see just one movie a month. And a plus, beer and wine are served at both locations!
This theater opened its doors only 5 years ago in 2011 and serves as the only Art House Cinema in Wynwood. In typical Wynwood fashion, the exterior is covered in a colorful mural that’s hard to miss and tops the list as the prettiest cinema exterior – not that a list of that nature exists. This location offers free outdoor movie screenings as part of their Cine Al Fresco series. Starting in August, O Cinema Wynwood will be host to the Popcorn Frights Film Festival, Florida’s leading genre film festival presenting the best horror films from around the globe.
It’s situated directly next to the The Wynwood Yard, a must-visit outdoor, patio-style venue host to various pop up restaurants, food trucks and bars. So, before you head into your movie, grab a drink and some amazing food – I highly recommend the Dale Bowl from the Della Bowls food truck. The Wynwood Yard also serves as the venue space for free concerts, yoga, silent discos and events like The Raddest Craft Fair.
Currently playing at the Wynwood location is SWISS ARMY MAN, a hilariously endearing film starring Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe and TICKLED, a bizarre but highly rated documentary you should probably read about yourself. It involves a journalist investigating a tickling competition and uncovering secret identities and criminal activity. Yeah, I’m confused too.
How to get there:
Take Bus Route 6 that stops directly in front of the theater. If you’re coming from the South, take the Metromover to the Brickell station and catch the 6 bus route from there. If you’re on a Citi Bike, park your bike at the nearest station on NE 27th street and N Miami Avenue, about three blocks from the cinema. If you’re already in the Wynwood area, you can take the free trolley and get off on either the Wynwood Walls or Rubell Collection stops. Stop into the Rubell Collection while you’re there for a look into an amazing private contemporary art collection – plus, it’s free. And if you’ve been living underground and for some reason haven’t seen them, also check out the Wynwood Walls.
O Cinema Miami Beach is housed in what used to be known as the Byron-Carlyle movie theaters from the 1960’s – look up and you can still see the original theater’s name on the building. Opened in 2014 in North Beach, the theater is only a couple streets down from the beach, a much less crowded beach than South Beach. If you’re feeling carbs, you can find great pasta next door at the Prima Pasta Café. Dinner and a movie? I’m feeling the date vibes.
Their Miami Beach location has partnered with Secret Celluloid Society, which moved from the Coral Gables Art Cinema, to offer 35mm screenings. Every Saturday at 11:30 pm, O Cinema Miami Beach screens movies in 35mm – next up are THE NEVER ENDING STORY, ALIEN and 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY. By the looks of it, everyone is going to these or at least that’s what Facebook tells me.
How to get there:
O Cinema Miami Beach – Take the 112 bus route that runs along Collins and get off on the 71st St at Byron Avenue stop, located directly across the street from the theater. If you’re on a Citi bike, drop your bike off at the nearest station at the end of the block on 71st Street & Byron Ave. Take a look at the Citi bike station map here.
Located in the old Miami Beach City Hall building, an art deco building built in 1927, the Miami Beach Cinematheque is Miami’s premiere HD Art House Cinema and is home to the Miami Beach Film Society. The theater has a bookstore/library, Nespresso bar and cafe inside and also houses a great art gallery filled with film memorabilia. Apart from discounted movie tickets, membership to this theater offers guests discounts on all regular Miami Film Festival screenings.
After your movie make sure to walk around the surrounding Art Deco district and stop at the French sandwich shop La Sandwicherie, only a 5-minute walk away on 14th street. Whatever you order (I recommend getting your sandwich on a croissant as opposed to a baguette), make sure you drown it in their special French sauce they keep in squeeze bottles all along the bar. Later, when the heat reminds you of why you seldom walk around in Miami, take a dip in the ocean, only one avenue away from the cinema.
Now showing: WEINER-DOG, a film centered around a dachshund puppy who gets shuffled from one quirky owner to the other; DE PALMA, a documentary about the American film director and screenwriter Brian De Palma which has been highly rated. For tickets and showtimes visit their website.
How to get there:
The South Beach Local Bus route 123 runs along Washington avenue, get off on the 11th ST stop and your destination will be a 2-minute walk away. If you prefer to ride bike, there’s a Citi Bike station less than a block away on 11th and Washington Avenue.
Tower Theater (Calle Ocho)
The Tower Theater is located in the heart of Little Havana, a lively, multicultural neighborhood that makes you feel like you are anywhere but the US. And by “anywhere” we mean Havana, Cuba. Opened in 1926, the theater stands as one of Miami’s oldest cultural landmarks. For many Cuban refugees at the time, it was an introduction to American culture. Now operated by Miami Dade College, the Tower Theater still aims to serve as a historic gathering place for Little Havana featuring Spanish language films and English-language films, subtitled in Spanish, as well as free educational lectures given by MDC faculty. It was named as “one of the 10 great places to see a movie in splendor” by USA today in 2011. And as a quick side note, it’s also rumored to have ghosts. Read about it here.
HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE opens this weekend, currently holding 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, centered around “a boy and his foster father as they become the subjects of a manhunt after getting stranded in the New Zealand wilderness.” If you’re looking for something a little more authentic to match the theater’s history, ESPEJUELOS OSCUROS, a Cuban Spanish-language film which had its North American premiere at the Miami Film Festival is also playing. Look at the full list of showtimes here.
Far from the tourist traps of South Beach, the Tower Theater offers some of the best prices in Miami – where else can you get $3 popcorn? Membership at the Tower Theater offers $6 admission to any regular screening – AKA the cheapest ticket in town. It’s next to Domino Park where you will find someone’s Cuban abuelo yelling over a dominos game at any time of day. You will also find the famous Ball & Chain bar across the street with live-music and good drinks as well as the artisanal Cuban ice cream shop Azucar where ticket holders get $1 off their ice-cream. If you’re hungry for something a little more filling, but Cuban nonetheless, stop at any of the restaurants nearby – El Rey de las Fritas is right down the street. Yup, you’re welcome.
How to get there:
If you’re coming from the North, you can easily get there by taking two buses. Go southbound on Bus Route 2 and get off on NW 3rd Street & NW 2nd Avenue, then switch to the 208 to go west and get off on SW 8th Street and 15th. If you are coming from the south, you can take the Metrorail up to Brickell station and then take a 10-minute bus ride on Bus Route 17. There is also a Little Havana route on the free Miami Trolley that stops right at the Tower Theater – it runs eastbound/westbound and even makes its way to the Brickell Metrorail station.
This theater is located in a pedestrian-friendly area of Coral Gables, a beautiful and historic area of Miami, just one avenue away from the famous Miracle Mile. It was named “Miami’s Best Art-House Cinema” by the Miami New Times in 2011. Be sure to check out their After Hours series, which screens popular movies, from cult classics to foreign favorites, every Saturday night at 11:45 pm. Tickets to these special screenings are $7 and include a free popcorn and 2-for-1 beer and wine. This month, they’ll be showing DAISIES, THE GODFATHER, and PAN’S LABYRINTH. Check out their After Hours calendar of events here. They also offer very popular, one-time-only 35mm screenings from time to time – the next one will be of CLOSE-UP on August 9th. The Art Cinema will start playing Woody Allen’s CAFÉ SOCIETY this weekend, a romance set in the 1930’s starring Kristen Stewart and Jesse Eisenberg. The cinema also offers a yearly membership that, among other perks, offers discounted tickets and members-only invitations to free screenings.
It’s located across from Books & Books, an independent bookstore that hosts reading groups, poetry groups, free workshops and lectures, and best of all, it has a great café that offers fresh, organic food at reasonable prices. I recommend the Turkey Panini with brie cheese and mango chutney. Make sure to check out their happy hour from 4-7 pm everyday for $4 specials on select beer, wine, and food!
How to get there:
Take the Metrorail northbound/southbound to Douglas Rd Station, depending on where you’re coming from. Then, you can take bus route 42 to SW 42 Avenue & Aragon Avenue, a 4-minute walk from the theater. Another way to get to the cinema would be to take the Coral Way Route on the free Miami Trolley that starts at the Port of Miami and makes its way down to Miracle Mile, through downtown and Brickell. The trolley makes its last stop only one avenue down from the cinema.
Bill Cosford Cinema (at UM)
This 60-year-old theater is the longest running art house cinema in the city of Miami. It is named after Bill Cosford, the respected film critic of the Miami Herald and a professor of cinema at the University of Miami. This theater screens a variety of films from independent, international, experimental, and classic, as well as 35mm too. The theater also hosts special screenings and Q+A’s with special guests that are free and open to the public. Check their website for a calendar of events.
Starting on Friday July 15th, the theater will start screening MICROBE & GASOLINE, a French film centered around two teenagers who embark on a road trip across France featuring actress Audrey Tautou from the critically acclaimed film, Amelie. Be sure to stop by the Lowe Art Museum also located on the UM campus, the first art museum to open in South Florida.
How to get there:
There is a Metrorail station directly across from UM called University. If you’re coming from the north, take the Metrorail southbound, if you’re coming from the south, take it northbound. Simple as that.
Located in South Miami, it’s the only movie drive- in in Miami! Reinvented for the modern age, the drive-in is open in the Spring and Fall. Currently, it’s closed and will reopen in September along with its Virgina Key location. Their website can be confusing so make sure to like them on Facebook for updates.
The coolest thing about this drive-in is that it allows you to build your own A La Carte night. You get to pick your own movie and invite up to 15 cars or 25 people which comes out to $10 per person. Once you book it, they open up 15 additional car slots to the public, but if it doesn’t sell, your night still happens. Just make sure your friends show up and that the movie you choose was made prior to 2016 and that’s it.
The drive-in is close to the Deering Estate, a hidden gem in Miami that resembles a mini Vizcaya. Fun fact: Charles Deering, the former owner of the Estate is half brothers with James Deering, the former owner of Vizcaya. I’d recommend stopping by the Deering Estate, overlooking Biscayne Bay, and get a tour of the historic home and hike through the mangroves. Well, not through them, but around them. You know what I mean.
How to get there:
Drive. (You’ll need your car to watch the movie!) Take a look at the Miami Trolley maps and hours of operation on their website.